Simona Bitmate, former Pendleton Sixth Form College student, who studied within the Performing Arts Department at the college more than 10-years-ago, stars in Peterloo, the Mike Leigh production.

Mike Leigh tells the story of the 1819 Peterloo Massacre in this newly released historical drama, now showing in local cinemas.

The event was one of the most brutal political clashes in British history, but one that is rarely talked about and recalled today. Armed government militants charged into a crowd of 60,000 – 80,000 peaceful protestors in St Peter’s Field, Manchester, with many being killed and hundreds being injured in the process.   

Starring as Esther, a local woman caught up in the events, Simona, who studied BTEC Acting and A-level Drama at Pendleton makes her feature film debut.

She will be starring alongside a host of local stars including Maxine Peake and Pearce Quigley, who play Esther’s parents. But, more importantly, Simona stars alongside two fellow Pendleton Sixth Form College alumni, Tom Meredith who plays Robert, and Tom Gill who stars as Joseph Johnson.

Since completing her studies at Pendleton, Simona has enjoyed a successful acting career. The former Canon Slade pupil has travelled the globe with her craft, roaming from New York to London’s West End, the Middle East and the Netherlands - with her latest role bringing her right back to her roots.

But, even to this day, Simona credits Salford-based Pendleton Sixth Form College for much of her success.

Simona said:

“The support from Pendleton staff member, Lucy Huntbach, in particular, wasn’t constrained to the four walls of the classroom, she encouraged me through drama school applications and gave me wonderful opportunities in live performances outside of the course, which challenged me as a young actor and set me up in good stead to go on to train at The Central School of Speech and Drama, from which I graduated with a first class honours degree.

“Being an actor is a difficult profession for many reasons, but my time studying at Pendleton Sixth Form College helped lay the foundations to equip me for what was to come.”

Lucy Huntbach, Head of Performing and Production Arts at The Pendleton School of Theatre, said:

“The Pendleton School of Theatre is extremely proud of the many successes of our former students appearing in theatres around the country, on television and most recently in the hard-hitting historical film, Peterloo, the latest offering from renowned director Mike Leigh.

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“Peterloo features three former Pendleton Acting students in key roles, Simona Bitmate as Esther, Tom Meredith as Robert and Tom Gill as Joseph Johnson, and we couldn’t be more proud.”

Peterloo is still in theatres and is showing at HOME, Manchester City Centre, throughout December. 

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